HEALTHY LIVING
03/29/2013 11:04 am ET

Epilepsy: What's The Condition That Caused Lil Wayne's Seizures?

The seizures that forced musician Lil Wayne to be hospitalized earlier this month were caused by epilepsy, according to news reports.

"The thing is, man, the bad news is, I'm an epileptic, I'm prone to seizures," Lil Wayne, who is 30, told Power 106's DJ Felli Fel. "This isn't my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh seizure. I've had a bunch of seizures; y'all just never hear about them. This time it got real bad because I had three of 'em in a row, and on the third one, my heart rate went down to, like, 30 percent. Basically, I could've died. So, that's why it was so serious."

He also noted that the seizures were brought on by too much stress and not enough rest.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, Lil Wayne is one of nearly 3 million people in the U.S. with the condition. Every year, there are about 200,000 people diagnosed with epilepsy.

The condition is most common in the very young and the elderly, and it's more common for men to develop it than women. More than half of the time, there is no known cause for the epilepsy, the Epilepsy Foundation reported. When the cause is known, it's often from brain injury, brain development problems or illness, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Epilepsy occurs when wrong signals are sent out by neurons in the brain. Electrical signal surges in the brain are what lead to the hallmark symptom of epilepsy: seizures. But having a seizure doesn't automatically mean a person has epilepsy, the Mayo Clinic noted. A person must have at least two seizures that are unprovoked in order to be considered epileptic; blood tests and neurological tests are often used to diagnose the condition.

Not all seizures are alike, but they often have characteristics such as confusion, involuntary jerking of arms and legs, and losing consciousness. And part, or all, of the brain can be involved -- when it's just part of the brain that is causing the seizure, it's called a focal seizure. When all of the brain is involved, it's called a generalized seizure.

Most of the time, epilepsy is managed with medications. But sometimes, surgery is a possible treatment when the exact part of the brain responsible for the condition can be pinpointed (what is called the "seizure focus"), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Just recently, "Fashion Police" host Kelly Osbourne was hospitalized after she had a seizure during a taping of her show. Despite reports, the 28-year-old's representative noted that she has not received an epilepsy diagnosis from doctors, and that "she is under a doctor's care and they are continuing to run tests," according to People magazine.

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